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 Mount Meru trekking

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is much less known than its sibling peak Kilimanjaro, yet the best of the ‘classic’ Kilimanjaro views are actually to be had from Meru’s peak. The four-day trek is quieter, steeper and includes trekking through unique habitats quite different to the topography on Kilimanjaro. Starting from Arusha National Park our trek package takes four days (you are driven from Arusha with your guide to the start of the hike).

Leopard print

Leopard print in fresh buffalo dung on the path

Each party is assigned an armed guard for protection up to the second campsite in case of any uncomfortable encounters with buffalo. There is a healthy leopard population in the park and their prints can be seen on the trails, but as the only large feline in the park they have far too many local delicacies to eat to be bothered by tasting tourists. In addition to your personal group guide and guard, there are two porters per trekker to carry your main bag, kitchen equipment, and food. All you need to carry is your daypack.

 Day one is an easy and enjoyable stroll through the savannah and past herds of buffalo, giraffe, zebra, monkeys, and warthogs and leopard footprints. During the afternoon hike your guide and guard will point out plants and animals of inte

rest and are always ready with a tale. Lunch is a mid-afternoon affair taken approximately two hours (halfway) into the day’s hike. Stunning views across the plain below and to distant Kilimanjaro prevail, accompanied by the calls of Colobus Monkeys and various birds of prey and parrots.

 

Red hot pokers on the first afternoon as the porters come by

The second section of the first day’s walk takes you deeper into the lower levels of the cloud forest. Here leopard sightings are more frequent. Wild flowers include the instantly recognisable ‘red hot pokers’, jasmines, types of tobacco, wild bananas, grasses, curry plants, wild geraniums and many more. You end your hilly but not too arduous introduction to the walk at Miriakamba Hut. On arrival your team will provide you with bowls of hot water to wash any aches and dust away, fresh popcorn and hot drinks and show you to your room. Each room sleeps 4 in bunks and if you are travelling as a couple you will usually get a room to yourselves. There are cold showers and flush toilets and after you have settled in and enjoyed the stunning views of Kilimanjaro in front of you and Mount Meru to your rear you will be invited to dine heartily before an early night.

 

Mount Meru from Little Meru, Sadle hut is down belowDay Two is another 1000-metre gain but this time it feels steeper as most of it is up hand-made wooden steps. Ascending deeper into the heart of the cloud forest the Amazon springs to mind, trees are draped with trailing vines and wispy vegetation. Wild animals call through the fine morning mist. Halfway up there is a chance to snack and take in incredible vistas of the steep forest-clad cliff beneath you and glimpse the peak ahead, seeming tantalisingly close. About four hours after departure you will arrive at Saddle Hut. Saddle Hut is positioned just above the end of the higher scrub-like vegetation and it is here that the scale of the mountain becomes so much more evident. Located at around 3,500 m some people will have started to be aware of the effects of altitude here. If so take a brief rest and light lunch before you tackle the short 500 m height gain to walk to the peak of Little Meru. This brief addition is well worth the extra time (30 minutes to two hours depending on your fitness). From this lower peak the true majesty of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro both become startlingly clear (provided there is no cloud of course).

 

Sunrise behind Kilimanjaro from Socialist Peak, Mount MeruOn returning to Saddle Hut you may feel much better if you were experiencing any signs of altitude sickness. Dinner is very early to allow you to head to bed as the sun goes down. Most parties choose to rise for a snack at 1 am and depart at 2 am for the summit. This part of the trek is where it really feels like serious mountaineering. Your guides lead you through the dark by torchlight or by moonlight up very steep volcanic paths, which include precipitous ridges, and drops that you only witness on your return trip. Groups take at least five hours to tackle this morning’s gain of just over 1200 metres to the ultimate goal – Mount Meru’s peak at 4,566 metres as the sun rises over Kilimanjaro. The effort is more than worth it – like awaking from an arduous dream your eyes adjust to the spectacle of the caldera below you and the pink dawn bedecking Kilimanjaro like a crown.

 

Ash cone, Meru cirque, and Kili in the backgroundAfter celebrating briefly at the chilly goal your group will be guided carefully back down to Saddle Hut. On arrival a few hours later the sun will be high in the sky and all the camp will greet you with congratulatory hugs and handshakes as what you have just achieved is considered steeper and technically harder than many of the routes up Kilimanjaro which is over a thousand meters higher in altitude – Mount Meru’s big sister.

 

After a rest and a huge lunch you will pack sore feet back into boots and take the gentle downhill walk back to Miriakamba for another night’s rest before heading back on the forth day to the park where you will be rewarded with your certificates and driven back to Arusha for the next section of your adventure.

 

Please contact us for further details, equipment lists etc. If you also wish to tackle one of the shorter Kilimanjaro routes then Mount Meru is recommended as an excellent acclimatisation exercise, but it is a great walk in itself. Many trekkers who done both have fonder memories of Meru than Kili.

Mt. Meru

Mt. Meru

 

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